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AFL confirms 7.30pm grand final start time, weighs up trophy protocols

“We were also cognisant of finishing the match at a suitable time for younger footy fans. The shortened game times this season should see the final siren blown and the 2020 Premier officially crowned just before 10pm AEDT.

“Historically a really special part of grand final day is the build-up and anticipation, and we want to ensure we can share the electricity and atmosphere of the night with as many people as possible around the country.

“A night grand final is sure to be a fantastic spectacle for both the fans in stadium and the millions watching around the country and overseas.”

There had been concerns among some club officials that the trophy and medal presentation may not go ahead in the traditional manner on the premiership dais because of potential breaches of AFL protocol, but an AFL spokesman has eased those fears.

“The premiership cup handover is all fine because it will all be sanitised and, if needed, they [the person handing over the trophy] can wear gloves,” he said.

Byron Pickett and daughter after winning the Norm Smith Medal in 2004.

Byron Pickett and daughter after winning the Norm Smith Medal in 2004. Credit:Vince Caligiuri

“All the players who grab it have been in the bubble anyway. There is no issue there.”

However, should one or two Victorian clubs make the grand final, a club may not be able to get the first-choice nominee they typically would have asked to make the presentation because of state border restrictions and clubs may need to find a former prominent figure living in Queensland.

Former Port Adelaide star Byron Pickett, having been the Norm Smith medallist in 2004, is scheduled to present the medal this year but his attendance may be too difficult depending on what protocols are enforced in the final game of the season.

Pickett, based in South Australia and who had been working with the Power before the initial COVID-19 shutdown, has not yet been asked by the AFL to make the presentation.

If, as expected, he is, one scenario would have him living at home under AFL protocols for a week before he left and undergo a COVID-19 test. Another scenario could have him not needing to follow any protocols and fly in as late as match eve because there are no border restrictions between South Australia and Queensland.

Another option the AFL is considering is whether to take a more simple approach, just for this year, and have a former Norm Smith medallist already in Queensland present the medal. Luke Hodge, the dual Norm Smith medallist with Hawthorn, would be one option under that scenario.

Brisbane Lions legend Simon Black, the 2003 medallist, presented the medal last year to Richmond’s Dustin Martin but 2002 winner Nathan Buckley has not yet had the chance to do so because of his role as Collingwood coach. He could be an outside-the-box option should the Magpies not make the grand final and he had not yet returned home to Melbourne.

The premiership trophy is generally presented by a club great of the winning team, with each side confirming a candidate through the finals. Tigers coach Damien Hardwick and skipper Trent Cotchin were last year presented with the premiership trophy by the wife of coaching great, Tom Hafey. But the selection of candidates becomes problematic this year because, aside from the AFL protocols, any Victorian wanting to leave the lockdown state must get approval and then will need to quarantine in Brisbane for a fortnight.

A decision will also need to be made on whether a recent move to have children who participate in Auskick present the premiership medals to the winning players can continue.

In a year of major upheaval, players who retire may miss out on the traditional motorcade on the ground before the opening bounce, while the typically manic dressingroom of the winning team will be more subdued if only those already inside the team bubble are allowed in – and not the usual array of extended family, sponsors and corporate types.

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